Taking care of those struggling with mental illness 

Street Smarts

Thoughts on mental health stir conversation on the streets of Colorado Springs.

click to enlarge Cassandra Jackson
  • Cassandra Jackson

Cassandra Jackson of northern Colorado Springs is a student.

What do you wish people knew about mental health disorders? That there is no quick fix. A lot of people believe that these conditions are just something that you have to push through and get over. It takes years of therapy, altering medication and discovering coping mechanisms. These issues never truly get resolved. It's like a shadow that follows you everywhere, that threatens to consume you if you slip up the slightest.

What would you consider "slipping up?" Like getting caught in a negative mind frame or using unhealthy coping means.

What is a common misconception when it comes to mental health issues? That people with these issues are just seeking attention. They don't understand that is a chemical imbalance and that without medication it is impossible to overcome it.

What would you tell someone who might be struggling? To not to be embarrassed about seeking help. There are plenty of people who have gone through or are going through it and understand how you feel.

click to enlarge Alyssa Spangle and Tessa Clubs
  • Alyssa Spangle and Tessa Clubs

Alyssa Spangle and Tessa Clubs of Fountain work at a Chick-fil-A.

Have you, or has anyone you've known, struggled with a mental health issue? (Alyssa): I haven't, and I'm not sure anyone whom I'm close to has either. My mom works with special needs kids, though, which has the potential to relate. (Tessa): I haven't struggled with anything, but I know people who have had depression.

What do you think it's like to have depression? (Alyssa): Probably sucks a lot. I don't think I've ever felt it on a deep level, just tinges here and there, but it definitely sucks. You're stuck in your mind, you have terrible feelings all the time. (Tessa): You feel hopeless.

Last year a lot of high school kids committed suicide, in several districts. Were you affected by that? (Alyssa): Oh, yeah. We went to Mesa Ridge High School and our freshman year we lost a kid to suicide. Actually, we lost a couple kids that same year. Also, another school in our district lost a kid to suicide the next year. (Tessa): There were a lot that year. (Alyssa): We lost a lot of kids.

What was the most surprising part of that? (Alyssa): You wouldn't expect it. Looking at it now, I see it, but they were just happy all the time, like overly. Trying to make everyone laugh. It was just really sad because everyone loved them. (Tessa): And they had friends and stuff like that. You weren't expecting it.

What would be a word of encouragement for those who might be struggling, or know someone who is struggling? (Alyssa): No matter what, try to go out of your way to make them laugh. Give them compliments, maybe start a casual conversation. You never know what might change the way they feel. It's powerful. I always try to do that in my life, because I know what it feels like to be just ... so lonely.


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